Rare Car Network

Rare Car Network
Unique Classics, Replicas and Build Culture
						351 Cleveland Cobra 1

351 Cleveland Power in a Budget Cobra

By Dean Larson

When looking at the incredibly diverse market for secondhand Shelby Cobra replicas, we generally consider anything priced below $30,000 to be on the cheap side — provided we’re looking at a running and driving car. For the most part, you’ll find a lot of Mustang-donor builds and other Ford OE 302-powered cars in this price range, and for the price, we’d build ’em that way too! But it’s always interesting to find something special under the hood in an affordable Cobra, and this Classic Roadsters Cobra on Craigslist is hiding something significant under the hood — a 351-ci Ford Cleveland V8.

Back in 1969, Ford’s Windsor, Ontario plant was kicking out as many 351 Windsor engines as possible, but forecasts indicated that these numbers couldn’t satisfy demand for a torquey intermediate V8. Ford’s Cleveland plant was called into action to produce a 351-ci (5.8-liter) variant to help boost production. However, they had the foresight to design in a few key improvements into the 351C for practicality and performance. In addition to eliminating the Windsor’s intake manifold coolant routing, the Cleveland engine would also make some drastic improvements to the Windsor cylinder heads. With much larger ports and larger, canted, valves, Cleveland cylinder heads were capable of superior flow over any of the 351 variants, and most Ford V8s of the day for that matter.

351 Cleveland Cobra 4

The 351C crammed into this Classic Roadsters Cobra looks to be a fairly honest Cleveland with a few performance and cosmetic enhancements. A four-barrel Holley carburetor sits atop an aftermarket intake manifold, likely an Edelbrock Torker or Scorpion. Mallory ignition components and a Cobra-themed air filter and valve covers make the big 351C look at home in the Cobra. Backing up the 351C is a four-speed Toploader transmission and Ford 9-inch rear end.

The seller refers to the engine as a “351 Cleveland High-Performance Engine,” but you can read into that a couple of ways. The 351C is generally thought to be a performance version of the 351W, but two different cylinder heads were used on the Cleveland, the 351-4V and 351-2V. The 4V version was the true high-performance setup, as it used the largest valves and ports. The 2V-version was designed more for high torque at lower rpm. But if we’re really splitting hairs, the earliest 4V-versions used a closed-chamber design, which had a higher compression ratio and performed better than the open-chamber design in a stock setting. A true 351-4V engine with closed-chamber heads is a catch these days, but who are we kidding, any Cleveland is worth bragging about at this point.

Beyond, cylinder heads, valves, pistons and combustion chambers, this is a nice Cobra replica for the money. Everyone can appreciate the Wimbledon White and Guardsman Blue color combination, and some might appreciate the longer wheelbase built into the Classic Roadster’s Cobra, which is obvious when you look at the shifter positioning. The seller is asking $28,500, making it a reasonable contender for a sub-$30K Cobra.

Check out the Clevo-powered Classic Roadsters Cobra here on Norfolk Craigslist.

Comments for: 351 Cleveland Power in a Budget Cobra

comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories You Might Like